As a former Marine, one will learn a basic rule of conflict, which is that the most committed person generally wins.
Commitment trumps almost everything. It’s hard to explain if you’ve never been in a real fight, but trust me, it’s true.
Vladimir Putin is completely rational. This is not an endorsement of the man or his policies, it’s an observation.
Much like former Pres. George W. Bush, he tells you what he’s going to do and then does it.
The thing is that there are certain boundaries which an American president will not presumably pass. Pres. Obama has clearly telegraphed his boundaries, and they are quite a bit more circumscribed then Mr. Putin’s.
When push came to shove, Mr. Putin rolled his tanks across the border into Ukraine. He changed facts on the ground through the use of force in a blatant manner, thereby following through on the earlier implied threat of invasion.
Sun Tzu advised that there were many factors which predicted the outcome of battles and wars. Things like “righteousness of the cause,” and, “quality of leadership.”
He pointed out that a great general knows the outcome much in advance of the beginning of hostilities.
Now, Marines are not all generals (I was a lowly enlisted infantryman), but we do all know that the most committed man wins 9 times out of 10, irrespective of the theoretical view of arms and armaments, provisioning etc.
In this case, the United States military is clearly superior in many aspects to any other nation’s armed forces on the planet. Not only do we have far and away the biggest and best trained military, the entire force is combat certified.
However, the ability to do something is not the same as the willingness.
Pres. Obama is clearly a reluctant commander and has carefully circumscribed each and every one of his actions. He’s to be respected for his clarity and follow through.
That said, Pres. Putin is not so tightly encircled in his options, and he has again demonstrated his unequivocal willingness to go to the mat for his allies and interests.
Such demonstrations count for much in this world.